Snoping Snopes

It recently has come to my attention that an article I wrote about imported garlic was snoped. I guess that means that it has gotten enough readership to draw some attention, which is good, but after reading the snope I feel the need to defend my original article in this blog post. I am disappointed to say I tried to post this in comments on their site and was blocked which reduces my respect for snope, a group I have always considered a reputable source for information.

To Snope: I appreciate you calling attention to an error in my blog post about Chinese garlic. I should have clarified that removal of all root mass does not mean garlic is from China, but it does suggest that the product is IMPORTED garlic, and the majority of garlic imported into this country is from China. I have changed the content of my article to clarify this.

In your snope you state that the garlic shown in the Christopher Ranch marketing photo has all of the roots removed, proving your point that American garlic can have the roots removed also. I contacted Christopher Ranch about the photo,and they told me they did not make the photo. It was made by ANUK ( a video newsletter for the produce industry) and may in fact be Chinese garlic.

In another part of your snope, you quote my conversation with the representative from Christopher Ranch saying that American growers don’t pay to completely remove ALL of the root material from garlic. You then show several Farmer’s Market examples of garlic with the “roots removed”. However when I look at some of your photos, I see garlic with root material still on some of the heads. Some roots are just clipped very short, not completely reamed of all root material as in my example of typical Chinese garlic (the bottom of the head will be completely white when all root material is removed). Large American commercial growers will snip the roots close to the base, but will not ream them out as shown in my photograph.  I grow and prepare my own garlic, including some for sale at the Farmer’s market, and can tell you that to get the bottom to look like my imported garlic example is very time consuming. But yes, you are correct, a few small Farmer’s Market growers may on occasion process garlic that way.

With regard to your comment on theories as to why the root mass is removed from imported garlic, I feel well supported in my statement that it is to remove all soil from the product. While the US regulations are hard to find on the internet, they do require imported garlic from China to meet phytosanitary standards certified by the exporting country. I could not find the US or China phytosanitary standards for garlic online but I could find them for Canada and they clearly state that no soil can be present on garlic imported to Canada from any country except the US. The only way to completely remove all soil from a garlic head is to completely remove the entire root mass from the head as shown in my example.

With regard to the contamination of Chinese garlic issue (I will not address the picture of pesticide spraying as that is not from my blog post) I call your attention to an extensive report from the USDA addressing food safety issues associated with all imported foods from China including information on contamination of garlic.

I further call your attention to the fact that the majority of garlic imported into the US is imported from China, and the US garlic industry no longer exports much product due to Chinese competition.

From the above facts one can then infer the following: Canada, and possibly other countries will not accept any garlic with root mass containing soil for import. If a grower is planning to export garlic, they will need to meet the strictest standards of countries accepting imports and this means removing all soil from the bulb of their products. The only way to remove all soil from garlic is to completely remove all root mass from the bottom of the bulb, leaving the bottom white and denuded of all stubble. This process is very labor intensive and thus expensive and not required for sale in the country of origin. Thus heads of garlic with every bit of root stubble removed are highly likely to be imported garlic from China.

I appreciate the work you do in promoting truth and accountability on the internet. As a Registered Dietitian, I try to fully research any nutrition or food related topic I write about. In this case, the rather nuanced nature of a complicated topic requires a high level of research and even then may be open to interpretation. I do stand behind my original thesis which is this:

When shopping for garlic, if one sees heads of garlic displayed in which every head of garlic has all stubble and root material removed from the bottom (essentially a white bottom) that garlic is probably imported. And most imported garlic is from China. Therefore, there is a high probability that garlic is from China. And garlic from China has a high probability of being contaminated with pesticide and/or bacterial residues.

I agree fully with your final comment that the best way to know the source of your garlic is to buy it directly from a farmer, through a Farmer’s Market or CSA, or to grow your own.

© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction of any content in the article without the written persmission of the author is prohibited.